’Tis the season for raising holiday spirits, but evidently, a few University of Vermont students raised them a bit too often this weekend — even before the party officially started.
The Vermont State Police reported that at about 7:30 Saturday night, three female UVM students headed to a sorority function at the Old Lantern in Charlotte had to be taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington due to overintoxication. According to police, the women, who were all headed to the winter formal sponsored by UVM's Delta Delta Delta sorority chapter, arrived by bus and hadn't even entered the party before they got sick.
The state police, as well as investigators from the Vermont Department of Liquor Control and UVM officials are looking into where the women, who were all under the age of 21, obtained the alcohol, the Burlington Free Press reported. Phone calls and emails Monday morning to Tri-Delta chapter officials in Burlington went unanswered as of publication time.
But one UVM expert on drug and alcohol use among college students says that incidents like this one are part of a troubling trend on campus. Amy Boyd Austin, director of UVM's Collegiate Recovery Community, which works with students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, says that in the past five years, she's seen a number of women with "really high blood alcohol content" landing in the ER or detox very early in the evening.
Boyd Austin, who wasn't commenting specifically on the Tri-Delta sorority incident, called it "pre-gaming" — that is, binge drinking early in the night. Boyd Austin said women are likely doing so for two reasons: to save money before hitting the bars and to ensure that the alcohol they’re drinking hasn’t been doped with a "rape drug" such as Rohypnol.
In FY 2013 (which doesn't include last weekend's incident), 118 UVM students had to be detoxed. Of them, exactly half — 59 — were women, according to data from UVM Police Services. Of the women who had to be detoxed, 23 had a blood alcohol content above .16, or more than twice the legal limit. And of the 118 students who were detoxed in FY 2013, five were repeat offenders, four of whom were female.